GitHub logoSource: GitHub

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's GitHub will acquire npm.
  • npm has over 1.3 million packages and helps developers with its registry of JavaScript packages.
  • The npm registry is free, and will always be free, according to GitHub's Nat Friedman.

Microsoft's GitHub announced that it will acquire npm, a popular company that has a massive registry of JavaScript packages. GitHub's Nat Friedman discussed the deal from GitHub's side, while an npm blog post by the company's founder talks about the deal from npm's side. GitHub and npm both focus heavily on open source development.

For developers that currently use the registry, the most important takeaway is that it will remain free. npm's blog post states that its registry of packages will remain "public, free, and as available as ever." GitHub's Friedman states that "the public npm registry... will always be available and always be free." Paying customers that use npm Pro, Teams, and Enterprise to host private registries will still be able to do so.

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Friedman explains that the focus of this deal is to invest infrastrucutre and platform, improve the core experience, and engage with the community. In the future, GitHub will integrate with npm, allowing developers to trace a change from a GitHub pull request all the way to an npm package version.

npm's story began in 2009 when its founder created a package manager for "sharing modules in a tiny group of nerdy weirdos who'd decided to write web servers in JavaScript." In 2014, npm transitioned into a business, growing into a major player in the JavaScript development space.

Friedman states that "The work of the npm team over the last 10 years, and the contributions of hundreds of thousands of open source developers and maintainers, have made npm home to over 1.3 million packages with 75 billion downloads a month. Together, they've helped JavaScript become the largest developer ecosystem in the world."

When npm was founded, it had a set of goals that its founder says have stayed mostly the same:

  1. Keep the npm registry running forever (not only for the life of the company).
  2. Be a company that we can all enjoy working at, and do the best work of our careers up until now.
  3. Get a big enough exit that I can quit my job and see what comes out of me a second time.
  4. Share the rewards equitably with the people who got npm to where it is.

The first goal is the most important in relation to this deal. With the GitHub acquisition of npm, the npm team feels comfortable that its registry will be available long after the company is gone. The npm blog post concludes by saying, "This is the end of 'npm, Inc.', the Delaware C Corp. But it's an exciting upgrade for npm."